Detroit Tigers: The Problem with Steven Moya

Jun 22, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Steven Moya (33) runs the bases after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners in the fourth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 22, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Steven Moya (33) runs the bases after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners in the fourth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Steven Moya doesn’t give the Detroit Tigers the dilemma of having two above-average right fielders.

We’re four weeks removed from when J.D. Martinez slammed into the wall at Kauffman Stadium trying to catch a fly ball off the bat of Paulo Orlando.

Martinez broke his elbow, and the All-Star slugger headed to the disabled list for the first time in his Detroit Tigers career. The everyday right fielder and middle-of-the-order bat was scheduled to miss 4-6 weeks.

Steven Moya got the call the night of the injury, and since then, has done a decent job with the Tigers as the interim right fielder. Yes, just decent. His .267 average through 25 games this season isn’t eye-popping. It’s reasonable.

He’s shown flashes that may allow him to stick with the team when Martinez returns after the All-Star break. Like his first career round-tripper against Chris Young. Or the game against the Seattle Mariners where he blasted home runs to left and right field.

But then, he’s also shown why the Tigers could send him back to Toledo upon Martinez’s activation from the disabled list. Like this 6-31 (.193) funk he’s fallen into over the last 11 contests. Or the defensive misplays, and the sluggishness of getting to the ball. Not like they’d send him down because of how slow he is. But his defense is horrible.

I have a love-hate relationship with Moya. I wrote in May that the Tigers need him; another power bat in the outfield, a guy coming off that strong weekend series in Baltimore.

More from Detroit Jock City

But, then when Martinez got hurt, I wrote that JaCoby Jones could be an option if Moya continued to be a flop at the major league level. I wrote that the Steven Moya ship had sailed in my mind. I said that? Ouch.

But, there is some truth to that. Before you furiously scroll down into the comments section and eat me alive, hear me out.

Steven Moya has yet to give the Tigers a dilemma. That dilemma? Having two really, really good right fielders. The Boston Red Sox had this same predicament in 2013. Current Tiger Jose Iglesias was once a young, highly regarded shortstop with the Red Sox organization, and had been since 2010. With the big league club in 2013, Iglesias really broke out with a .330 average through 63 games.

While Iglesias tore it up at the big league level, the Red Sox were attracted in what they had in the minors with another young shortstop in Xander Bogaerts. The Sox had to choose between the two, and ultimately determined that the X-Man had a brighter future as the Sox’ shortstop. So, Iglesias was shipped to Detroit at the ’13 trade deadline.

Related Story: Detroit Tigers All-Time 25-Man Roster

Am I saying the Tigers should have to choose between Moya and Martinez? Absolutely not. Moya shouldn’t be expected to mimic Martinez’s monstrous stats. It’s the dilemma that Moya doesn’t even come close to presenting that bothers me, and the fact that Martinez’s return can’t come soon enough. Not to mention, Moya still splits time with Mike Aviles, who has never really played much right field before this season.

When no dilemma is present, there doesn’t feel a need for him to be in the lineup everyday. In 2014, the Tigers called up J.D. Martinez, a guy who had just been cut from the Houston Astros just days before. After signing him to a minor-league contract, he was assigned to the Toledo Mud Hens. In just 17 games, Martinez smashed 10 homers and drove in 22 runs to the sweet tune of a .308 average. His domination in Toledo resulted in his call-up on April 21.

Although he did struggle in his first few weeks as a Tiger, Martinez quickly became a guy that the Tigers could not afford to take out of the lineup. He hit behind Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and played a solid right field. With Moya, you just don’t get that feel.

Moya was the Tigers’ second best prospect in 2015, and rightfully so. With the Double-A Erie Sea Wolves in 2014, Moya clobbered 35 home runs, drove in a remarkable 105, and slashed .276/.306/.555. With the big league club in three separate stints, the minor league beast we’ve waited on has yet to arrive. He’s a career .259 hitter in 45 games. The 5 career big flies and 11 RBI have all come this year.

In Martinez’s first 45 games in Detroit, he hit .315 with 10 home runs and 33 runs driven in. This isn’t meant to be a comparison of the two players. One is the Tigers starting right fielder and the other is the guy who’s backing up the starting right fielder. Cleary the numbers will be a bit off.

Instead, look at their track records. Martinez hasn’t done what Moya has done, which is the often shuffle from Toledo to Detroit. When Martinez was called up in 2014, there was no looking back. He found a way to remain in the Tigers lineup. Steven Moya can’t find a way to do that.

I don’t despise Steven Moya. I also won’t vouch for him as the future of the team. The fact that he can’t seem to stick around concerns me.

Next: 5 Tigers Who Could Be Traded At The Deadline

Steven Moya has yet to give the Detroit Tigers that dilemma. So, for now at least, we can enjoy the good right fielder that we have, and pray his return comes sooner rather than later.